Transfers can take guesswork out of recruiting — just ask Matthew Mitchel

Robyn Benton (Auburn Athletics)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Recruiting has been limited during COVID-19 but Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell has found a new recruiting tool — transfers. Kentucky recenty added 6-4 Olivia Owens of Maryland but before that Mitchell got two other transfers who have already shown they can be productive college players — something Owens has yet to show.

Jazmine Massengill played in 53 games at Tennessee the last two years. She averaged 6.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game last season. She was second on the team with 128 assists and also had 27 steals and 23 blocks.

Robyn Benton played two years at Auburn. She earned all-SEC freshman honors when she averaged 5.8 points period game with 34 steals. She missed the first nine games of her sophomore season with an injury but averaged 10.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 1.4 assists in the 20 games she played.

Mitchell said transfers are “good for us” before adding Owens that certainly had to make him even more giddy.

“For our program to function at its best we need quality depth and need to build a powerful, explosive athletic and mentally tough basketball team,” Mitchell said. “It’s important to stay on the attack for 40 minutes and adding depth and experience like that and quality experience in our league where you know what they can do is important.”

Mitchell still wants to recruit the best high school players — and he’s certainly done that with Rhyne Howard and Treasure Hunt — but says “you are not guessing” when adding transfers.

“To some extent every freshman that comes in you have an idea how they will compete but you do not know exactly what they will do,” Mitchell said. “I love those two players (Massengill and Benton) because you have clear evidence in our league they can make plays to be successful. They are both really good additions to our team and will help us tremendously getting to where we want to be — SEC championship, Final Four, national championship. You have got to have players who can get the job done and they certainly have shown they can do that.”

Mitchell said high school star recruiting ratings are helpful but not always totally accurate or a perfect indicator of what could happen in college.

“Sometimes a two-star player turns out great in college and a five-star is not,” Mitchell said. “With transfers, you are not having to project with them. You have seen what they can do against SEC competition.  We are not guessing on these two players (Massengill and Benton). We know what we believe they can do and have seen what they can do.”

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